Hacking Into Harvard

According to the case study, some curious business school applicants followed instructions left anonymously by a hacker to electronically access their admissions’ decisions prematurely. Many of the administrators from the business school believed that applicants had behaved unethically and chose to deny admission to all candidates who had attempted to access their application status. Determine whether in your opinion an act utilitarian would conclude the hackers were in fact morally wrong to access their admissions information. Support your position by estimating how much pain and pleasure resulted from the candidates’ decisions and whom that pain and pleasure affected. Explain how the position an act utilitarian would take might differ from the response of a rule utilitarian.
•As applicants began to defend themselves against the penalties handed out by the business schools, they appealed to both consequentialist and nonconsequentialist criteria to support their actions. Some responded by pointing out that their intentions were never malicious, while others argued they did not think checking their application statuses would cause any real harm. Review the case study and analyze the actions of the students from a Kantian perspective. Consider whether the actions taken by the hackers were permissible according the standard of universal acceptability.

 

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Solution Preview

In my opinion an act utilitarian would not conclude that the hackers were in fact morally wrong to access their admissions information. This is due to the fact that this act brought a great deal of comfort and happiness to the students in question, without causing any damage to the institution or any individual per se. Due to the fact that a great deal of happiness, pleasure, or relief was the result of this activity, and the fact that there was no one harmed by this activity, from a utilitarian point of view there was essentially no moral breach of significant consequence due to the actions of the hackers. In addition there was a great deal of pleasure …

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